SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Sydney's Olympic organizing committee suffered a further blow Thursday as the federal government said it would no longer negotiate with SOCOG president Michael Knight.

Knight is the state Minister for the Olympics as well as SOCOG president, a dual role criticized by the New South Wales opposition.

Knight has been accused of politicizing the 2000 Olympics and was implicated earlier this month in the resignation of high-profile spokeswoman Tracey Holmes _ the 17th major player to quit SOCOG's staff in four years.

Federal Sports Minister Andrew Thomson said the conservative government would inform New South Wales Labor premier Bob Carr that it would only deal with Carr on Olympic issues in the future.

The move came after Knight criticized the federal government's insistence that Prime Minister John Howard open the Sydney Olympics in return for funding.

Knight said it was regrettable that the government's attempt to ``horse-trade'' over the opening ceremony had emerged when an International Olympic Committee delegation was in Sydney.

An IOC coordination committee is meeting with SOCOG officials this week and a full IOC executive board meeting, including Juan Antonio Samaranch, will take place next week. Samaranch is due to arrive on Saturday.